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If America’s slowly ossifying singer-songwriter tradition needs a swift boot in the pants, then Brian Straw’s foot is well-shod for the kicking. Eschewing the trite, broken-down lyricism of any dude with a guitar from Kansas to Kalamazoo, Straw mixes homemade instruments and avant-garde electrodrones with six-string strummin’ and a striking basso to take folk music beyond familiar Guthrie/Dylan retreads. Put that well-worn copy of Springsteen’s Nebraska aside for the evening; this guy brings his progressive balladry all the way to D.C. from Cleveland—and makes music that sounds like the road in between. Straw takes the stage at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1831 14th St. NW. $5. (202) 667-7960 (JM)